First-year head coach Mike Woodson and the Indiana Hoosiers have had 42 days of practice to get ready for the season. But, due to nagging injuries, they are not completely where they want to be.
Throughout this offseason, the Hoosiers were dealing with their fair share of injuries. Freshman Logan Duncomb had a shoulder strain and did not play in the Bahamas, Anthony Leal didn’t play there due to a concussion, Miller Kopp injured his ankle during the same trip, Khristian Lander was seen at Hoosier Hysteria with a boot on his left foot, Trey Galloway also sat out that event, and Xavier Johnson was out for undisclosed reasons.
All of those guys have managed to rehab their injuries and are ready for the opener against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday.
However, former four-star recruit Tamar Bates and transfer center Michael Durr are still trying to overcome their own injuries. Woodson said they had a “nice little workout” with them and will know their status later today. But, the team has not played anywhere near full strength, which is limiting their true potential.
“We’ve made some major progress, but again we still have a long way to go,” Woodson said of the team.
With Bates, Durr, Kopp and Johnson all missing an extended period, Woodson doesn’t yet have a good read on his team.
“So it’s really hard to gauge where your team is when these are four guys that are a big piece of the puzzle that you brought in, that we brought in to really help us win basketball games.”
If Bates and Durr are held out of the season’s opener tomorrow, it will also affect the team’s rotation. Both players were not going to be in the first five — Race Thompson Trayce Jackson-Davis, Parker Stewart, Kopp, and Johnson were named by Woodson as the starters— but, they were expected to be contributors off the bench.
“Scoop” (as Bates is referred to) was expected to provide a scoring boost. While Durr, the seven-footer, projects to provide depth in the frontcourt.
Ideally, Woodson wants to deploy a ten-man rotation. That way, his players don’t burn out before the physical play of the Big Ten. However, if both players are unable to go, it likely puts that plan on hold.
“I don’t know if we’re there in terms of being able to go ten yet,” Woodson said of the rotation. “But somehow we’ve got to work Mike and Tamar Bates back into the mix, because again they’re big pieces to the puzzle as well.”
Bates is the more likely of the two to play on Tuesday night. Even if they are good to go, it will change how the team operates on the floor. Durr did not play in any of the Hoosiers’ scrimmages this offseason. The chemistry might be a little off as they attempt to work him and Bates, back into the rotation. But, they need to return to the court for the Hoosiers to get used to playing with each other.
“I think team chemistry,” Trayce Jackson-Davis said when asked about what the team needs to work on.
“I mean we’ve been together for five months, six months, but at the same time a lot of guys been banged up, and a lot of guys have been injured. So, just playing together and playing with each other in different rotations. So, I think that’s going to be really big for us.”
Woodson has said that he won’t rush anyone back from injuries. He knows it is a long, strenuous season and he needs his team healthy. But, we might not see the full potential of this team until Durr and Bates are back on the court.
Truth be told, Indiana likely won’t need either player until its first high major test on Nov. 17 against St. John’s.
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